Foundations of Photography: Flash

Taking the flash off camera


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Foundations of Photography: Flash

with Ben Long

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Video: Taking the flash off camera

At the beginning of this chapter, you saw that a light coming directly from the same vantage point as your eyes just doesn't really look natural. So next we put an external flash on it, and got that light raised up a little bit. And that made a difference, it gave us a better picture. But if we can get the flash completely off the camera, that gives us a tremendous amount of creative freedom, both to create very stylized looks, but also to create very natural looking light. So, what would happen if instead of the flash being right here, it was, it was more up here? Maybe I could get even more shadowing on Ashley's face, get more modelling, get more depth.
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  1. 1m 35s
    1. Welcome
      1m 35s
  2. 33m 1s
    1. Exposure revisited
      2m 22s
    2. How flash works
      2m 12s
    3. Balancing ambient light and flash
      3m 54s
    4. Shutter speed, aperture, and flash
      4m 11s
    5. Fill and key light with flash
      4m 13s
    6. Understanding flash range
      2m 47s
    7. Understanding flash modes
      5m 16s
    8. Flash sync options
      3m 2s
    9. Some notes about your camera's built-in flash
      5m 4s
  3. 32m 50s
    1. When to use fill flash
      1m 39s
    2. Using fill flash in auto and program modes
      2m 44s
    3. Fill flash in priority or manual modes
      2m 38s
    4. Using flash exposure compensation
      9m 14s
    5. Using fill flash to eliminate unwanted shadows
      5m 46s
    6. Using fill flash to darken a background
      5m 1s
    7. Using flash to supplement ambient light
      3m 48s
    8. Filling in for a bright sunset
      2m 0s
  4. 33m 53s
    1. Shooting a portrait with flash as the key light
      4m 27s
    2. Why use an external flash?
      3m 34s
    3. Flash power and recharging times
      4m 21s
    4. Flash zoom
      1m 45s
    5. Taking the flash off camera
      5m 35s
    6. Using a softbox
      5m 3s
    7. Balancing flash and window light
      4m 22s
    8. Paying attention to the light in the room
      3m 39s
    9. Flash and white balance
      1m 7s
  5. 54m 20s
    1. Bouncing flash to improve lighting
      13m 8s
    2. Alternative options for bouncing flash
      5m 12s
    3. Using slow sync with flash
      8m 50s
    4. Rear-curtain sync
      11m 54s
    5. Using radio controls to fire a flash
      4m 32s
    6. Working with manual flash
      10m 44s
  6. 25m 16s
    1. Building up to multiple flash units
      13m 3s
    2. Adding the second flash for fill
      5m 19s
    3. The third flash as a backlight
      6m 54s
  7. 7m 50s
    1. Which brand of flash should you buy?
      1m 27s
    2. Guide number considerations
      3m 13s
    3. Shopping recommendations
      3m 10s
  8. 42s
    1. Next steps
      42s

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Watch the Online Video Course Foundations of Photography: Flash
3h 9m Appropriate for all Dec 13, 2013

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Harsh, unflattering lighting can ruin a photo—and with flash, it's easy to get harsh, unflattering lighting. But flash is a necessary part of a photographer's toolset—after all, the world doesn't always provide you with the best natural light.

Fortunately, it isn't difficult to get great results from flash, and in this course, photographer, author, and teacher Ben Long details the concepts and techniques behind effective lighting with flash. Ben starts with fundamentals that build on exposure principles taught in other installments of Foundations of Photography—simple techniques that improve the results from a camera's built-in flash. He then focuses on fill flash techniques and on using flash as a key light. The course also explores topics ranging from bouncing and syncing flash to shooting with one or more off-camera flash units.

Topics include:
  • How flash works
  • Balancing ambient light and flash
  • Understanding flash ranges and modes
  • When to use fill flash
  • Using an external flash
  • Bouncing flash to improve light
  • Building up multiple flash images
  • Purchasing a flash
Subject:
Photography
Author:
Ben Long

Taking the flash off camera

At the beginning of this chapter, you saw that a light coming directly from the same vantage point as your eyes just doesn't really look natural. So next we put an external flash on it, and got that light raised up a little bit. And that made a difference, it gave us a better picture. But if we can get the flash completely off the camera, that gives us a tremendous amount of creative freedom, both to create very stylized looks, but also to create very natural looking light. So, what would happen if instead of the flash being right here, it was, it was more up here? Maybe I could get even more shadowing on Ashley's face, get more modelling, get more depth.

As you may have already guessed, there is a way of doing this. And, in fact, maybe you've already got one of these. This is, well Canon calls this an off camera shoe cord. You might also see this as a remote flash cable, something like that. This is the one made specifically by Canon for my flash system. What's kind of telling about it is being a dedicated or a cord dedicated to a particular system is it's got all these pins in it. If I look at the hot shoe on my camera, I see there are these collection of little contacts here, one for each pin on my cable.

Those contacts are used to transmit full TTL information to my flash, so that even when its off the camera, I still get all the same automatic metering that I get when it's on the camera. Now there are third-party flash sync cords that are going to be cheaper than the Canon one. They may not all have those full contacts. Some of them may only have a single contact that fires the flash. That means I lose all my TTL stuff and have to go into working in a manual mode. There is nothing wrong with that if you like working in manual mode and you can get a cable for much less money that way. But when you're starting out, having TTL is really useful, so you may want to buy a cord that does provides enough contacts to give you full TTL.

And the description of the product will, will definitly say that. So all I'm doing is screwing the appropriate end into the appropriate piece of gear here. There is a hot shoe here that attaches to my flash and then, there's a thing that goes in the hot shoe of my camera. Once it's there, I can no longer use the pop-up flash and I've got about this much room. But now my flash is off the camera. I can start moving it around and really get to town with trying to find a better position for my light. So lets start with what I just described, a more extreme version of what we were doing before. Obviously, it takes two hands to do this, so if I am driving the camera with my right hand, which is how actually how that's everyone going to do it because that's where the shutter button is.

What am I talking about? It's not like there is a left handed camera. I am bad with scissors also. anyway, I am using my right hand for the camera, so I'm going to hold the flash up here. I've got it turned on. Now one of the first things you have to do when you're first starting to use off camera flash, is remember to pay attention to where the flash is pointing, 'because it's real easy to do this, and now I'm lighting up some wall over there. So I'm actually going to with my, with my off eye here try to pay attention to where it's pointing. I want to go directly above my camera, pointing it down at Ashley.

I'm still in Program mode, and because I've got TTL on my flash cable, I'm getting full metering and everything, and that is looking very nice compared to when it was on the camera. I've now got it up a little bit higher. It's a, I, I would like it to be a tiny bit brighter. I still have the same flash exposure compensation that I had dialed in before. And now the flash is a little bit farther from her, and I may not be pointing it directly at her. I think I'm also standing back a little ways. yeah, this is looking good. Again I'm getting more contour off of her face.

Her cheekbones are just starting to cast a little bit of shadow. I do have that hard shadow under her chin, which I'm not crazy about. It's really that hard shadow is a, is a distraction. It creates this black line under her face. It's, it's kind of harsh compared to the pretty soft features of the rest of the lines in her face. Still though, I'm, I'm, liking this light a lot better than the pop-up flash that I had earlier. So now let's start playing around. Look what happens if I pull the flash over here. Aha, now I am getting some real depth and change.

So, you can see I'm, I'm creating one just very different looks and much more dramatic light by using the flash to intentionally, trying not to strangle myself here, to intentionally cast shadows on her face. Ashley's doing a very nice job of just moving around for me even though I'm not directing her. Uum, as I'm moving it around, I start need to pay attention to flash exposure. A camera's doing what it can to, because it's in TTL mode, it's still sending out its pre-flashes, it's still trying to measure the right amount of light, and it's still coming out just a little bit hot, I'm going to turn it down a third of a stop and see what I get.

So it's really nice just playing with these shadows and seeing what I can come up with. But notice on these how the shape of her face becomes more pronounced as I have say a very extreme shadow on one side of her face. Things become much more interesting looking. I get a better sense of the scale of, of the bone structure of her face. I can see her nose a little bit better. That said, I'm still getting that harsh shadow under her chin.

I've still got a pretty bright light on her forehead. If I turn down my flash exposure compensation any more, it's possible the image is going to be too dark. I'm still not quite there because though I've got a good position on the flash, the quality of the light is pretty harsh. It's a very very bright light shining on her, so we're going to try a couple of different things to soften that light and change the overall quality of what's coming out of my flash.

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